Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Butterfly Wonderment

I went to a butterfly "zoo" with several friends two weekends ago.  This was the most amazing thing EVER!  There were butterflys everywhere, they flitter about, often landing on people, hitching rides on us very warm humans.  They keep the room around 80-ish and its very humid.  Even cold all the time me, was happily warm and after a while trending towards hot.

There is a display case showing the cocoons, where the conditions are perfect for them to hatch, but neglected to snap a photo of that.  Hopefully this next weekend, TH and I will take a trip and  I'll snap a photo of that.  They also had a bee area, which was actually cool, as the bees had a "tunnel" to the outside where they gather nectar and then return to their hive within the "zoo".  Also on had were ants and scorpions and shudder spiders!  Needless to say I gave these last three insects a very wide berth.  They also had a fairly large aquarium which didn't seem to mesh with the insect kingdom thingy, but twas major coolness.

The blue one landed on my back, and my friend's hair and sleeve.  I have no idea what each one is named, I had their brochure which lists them, but alas lost it most likely the last time the clutter patrol was on duty I filed it into the trash. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Rose Colored Opposite Day

This will be our first Christmas alone, no children, no family, just us two.  Our first Christmas we spent the day with TH's family, his sister, brother and his family and the parents.  The next time Christmas rolled around we had Eldest, he was 18 days old.  TH and I were both so tired that it was hard to get enthused about the holiday.  What excited TH the most was that his grandmother came for a visit, a rare occurrence.

As the years spooled by, and our family grew every few years, the holidays began to be held at our home, so no travel but much much more work.  But it was enjoyable, the run up to Christmas, tiring but exciting!  The list of "must haves" for dinner kept growing until it took nearly 3 full days of cooking to get everything everyone desired to eat on the table.

We don't have the funds to travel back to Alaska, sigh, it was a pinch to send the boys and their wives small gift cards.  And so the Great Holiday Discussion began.  It had to be both different and cheap.

We could pack a lunch and head out to a park!  Wander about and then find a great scenic spot to enjoy a nice lunch.  So, TH gets on the phone, and all parks are closed for the holidays.  Which really when one thinks about is awesome for the employees.

Go to the movies?  In some weird sense it felt rather lonely to us, so that was quickly discarded.

How about having an anti-holiday?  Let's not do anything that is sorta kinda even remotely Christmas-y.  No decorating, as all our tree trimming items are up in Alaska.  Only send out a few cards, which I need to do tomorrow......  No pies, cookies, hams, prime ribs, etc.  If it's traditional for us, then its out the door this year.

Our tentative plan is to head over to the video rental store a few days before Christmas Eve, and rent an entire raft of movies.  I would like to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" which is one of my all time favorite movies, but one can't get a much more iconic Christmas film.  We can't decide between trilogies, or stand alone movies.  In the running for the trilogy column is X-men, Back to the Future, Iron-man/Avengers.   If we do single movies the category is wide open.  If you have any movie suggestions, pass 'em along as none of our movie choices are cast in concrete.

Dinner will be hamburgers, baked beans, ruffled chips with ice cream and chocolate chip cookies for dessert.   Ok, technically a chocolate chip cookie is a, umm well, cookie, yes I know that.  But its not a holiday cookie, so thats how it slips thru the anti-holiday food barrier.  Buy TH some killer great root beer, and some grapefruit soda for me.  Stock up on ice, and junky foods, make sure we are well stocked for burger trimmings and the food angle is covered. 

I brought a few of our favorite board games from home, so if our eyes and minds get tired of watching movies, we can laugh like crazy beings while we play Yahtzee, or Parcheesi, or a card game.  I'm not sure what alchemy occurs when we play board games, but we usually end up laughing ourselves sick.  The last time we played Parcheesi, we laughed so long and hard when we finally calmed down we had forgotten whose turn it was! 

There you have it, our plans for our first annual Rose Colored Opposite Day!


Friday, December 6, 2013

Hickory, Dickory, Dock

'Tis been quite a while, but time has gotten away from me once again.  It seems that each day whizzes by on winged feet, and before I know it, time for sleep.  Here is a snapshot of whats been going on.

Went back to volunteer at the library, and was knock me down with a dust mote surprised when I was greeted with hugs.  I have no idea why people feel the need to hug me, but what is awesome was how much they seemed to have missed me!  w00t!!!

Been going out every other weekend with my meetup group.  Have invited TH, and he hasn't felt either well enough or comfortable enough to go.  He feels like the odd man out, and I can understand his feelings completely.  He did come for coffee with me and another lady during the week.  They had a good time chatting about this and that, they invited us over for dinner in the future, so that should be fun.  

TH has begun physical therapy 3 times a week, and it leaves him in pain and wrung out.  He has about 30 minutes of stretches and specific motions he has to do once a day, and a few other that need to be done 2x a day.  Then he rides a recumbent bike for 20 minutes and walks 4 miles a day.  This is all for his recovery.  At this point in time, they aren't sure he will be able to return to work at all.  He needs to lift 50lbs to do his job and the therapists aren't sure he will be able to do so by the time he has to report back to work.

Uncertainty about his ability to return back to work has led to long and frequent talks about what we'll do if he can't.  Due to the crushing debt the surgery has deposited, if he can't return to work our only option is to go back to Alaska, pack up the house there when the lease is up and move here full time.  It's much much cheaper to live here than there.  And while thats fine with me, TH isnt happy about it at all.  How well he will handle the triple digit heat is a worry.  After the debt is paid off will  open the can of worms again as to where we will live.

Still being unable to lift more than 5 lbs leaves me doing everything.  From carrying all the groceries in, trash out, and moving the gallons of water for drinking in.  He cant wash dishes, even emptying the dish machine causes him discomfort.  Laundry is impossible as well as reaching into the washer/dryer causes pain and difficulty.  Added to all this extra work, is the realization that even using natural dish machine soap causes me to feel like crud, shortness of breath, painful joints, tummy unhappiness....  When we moved me down here, I bought dishes and silverware in a group of four.  I'm doing dishes more or less non-stop to keep the kitchen clean and so we have something to eat off of.  I had forgotten just how much the guy eats and how often!  We bicker, believe it or not about my "over use" of vegetables in our meals!  He would rather eat meat every meal of the day, every single day.  I would rather eat more veggies than meat, so there isnt a great deal of grey for us to meet in. 

The bright spot in our meals is that TH is totally supportive of how I have to eat.  He only eats sandwiches out, and hasnt had any shellfish when he's with me.  He does eat eggs and cheese, and has a separate toaster for his waffles.  He eats my crackers and the few successes I've had with making edible gluten free, egg free bread.  Chicken is something he misses, so until he can do the washing up we will have to buy those toss away foil pans as I cant even wash up chicken without reacting.

When Thanksgiving rolled around I made a vegan pumpkin pie, and he eagerly dug in.  Talk about surprised, the pie was some of the best pumpkin pie we've ever eaten.  The lack of eggs and milk were unnoticeable!  If you want to make a pie for someone who is allergic to dairy, eggs, gluten,  are on a diet or has high cholesterol, they will love you forever!  This pie is killer good.  Here is the linky, and yeah mine looked exactly as it does in her pictures.  'Tis simple and mega tasty, give it a try.  I still have masses of work on the pie crust, but I don't eat pie for the crust.

Third son and wife called us on turkey day and told us they are expecting a wee one in June!  Yesterday TH sat with me and helped me chose yarn and patterns for sweaters and booties for the wee one that Third Son is calling "Blue".  Why?  Well the doctor told them on their first visit that the baby was the size of a blueberry, so the name stuck. 

Due to weather and finances we will be staying here for christmas.  We do have free tickets and one free night at a hotel, so we could go visit Second Son.  But heading home is out of reach.  We are still trying to talk Second Son into coming for a visit, but his wife's schedule is crazy and she cant give an answer as to when she could come down.

Last Monday night I went to the grocery, bought two bags worth, and filled four gallon jugs with water and headed home.  Things were okie dokie until I attempted to get thru the gate.  The gate swung back, and when I went to kick it open again, it didnt open very far, I caught my foot in the gate, got totally off balance and took a hard tumble on my knee on the sidewalk.  Lost my glasses in the dark, TH went down and found them for me.  I've missed all this week of library "work", and my knee is quite the grumpy gus still.  Yes,  TH took me to the doctor, and no, its not broken nor any sort of ligament tear, just good ol' fashion bruised to hell and back.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dritten, Troisieme, 제

I'm not sure I've mentioned my dream self that is male, he visits my dream-scape irregularly doing the usual things that make up my life, but in male form.  When he first came to visit, it took me a while to realize that this boy was me, and as I grew up so did he.  During the whirl-wind years of child building and the exhaustion caused by raising 4 children, he vanished from my nights.  As time went on and I became less sleep deprived he returned.

Male dream self never does anything that I don't do.  He cooks, he knits, visits with friends, and on several occasions has "enjoyed" the same bout of flu.  There are long stretches where he doesn't appear, and others where he visits at least once a week.  Due to being sleep deprived and over stressed of late due to TH's medical odyssey, dream male hasn't been around for quite a while.   TH by the way is recovering well, he needs a second surgery to get him back to 100% but we just don't have the ability to raise another $15,000, for now he will have to settle with 80%.

A few nights ago he returned, and it has left me unsettled, depressed and grieving, something he sparks now and then, but this..............this was/is............left me heart broken.

He has had sex in our dreams many times, thats nothing new.  Yes, its always with another guy, never a girl, and I seem to be a top.  He hasn't ever received in a dream, and funnily enough, TH once said not long after we married, "You'd rather fuck me than have me fuck you."  I stammered around a while denying it, but its true.

In this dream for the first time that I can remember, and these dreams are vivid and stick with me for days or years for some of them, he was wanking, running his hand up and down his dick.  The feeling of a dick in my hand was unbelievable, as was the feeling of the friction.  Jerking awake I laid there with tears spilling onto my pillow.

I don't hate much, but this fucked up dichotomy of body and soul is one that I'm coming to hate.  True happiness is rare for me, every stupid single day is tinged with grief and sadness.  Honestly?  I'm not sure that transitioning would make me all that much happier.  No matter which way I turn, there is a road block that is unmovable.  I hate the fact that no matter which way I chose to live the rest of my life, something of equal value is lost with the gain.  

As the old saying goes, "neither fish nor fowl", yeah that fits.  I just feel outside of "normal".  Not 100% sure I wanna be living within the realm of normal, but knowing I don't conform within that space is rather off putting.  Choosing to be out of the oval of what is considered "normal, is one thing, but to know that you're non-compliant with the schematics of normal-ville as an unwilling participant is an entirely different matter.

Maybe the term third gender needs to take root inside of me.  "The spirit of a man, in the body of a woman."  That fits me perfectly.  No ragged edges, no maddening gaps, a pure fit.  Now, I just need to internalize this concept, re-writing my personal schematic diagram.  Re-booting my personal description, this may take a while to ingest. 

If you're wondering about the post title?  Tis the word third in German, French and Korean, pronounced as je.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Its been awhile

since my last post, but much has happened, and life sorta kinda got complicated.  TH has had issues with his arms/hands/upper back for a while now, and he thought it was just wear and tear and a smidgen of old age added.  After visiting a local doc in Ak, the bad news came down, he had severe issues with his spine in his neck.  A flurry of phone calls, and his appointment was set up for October 21.  Yes, after the Mongolian trip.  Yes, after the boys and I attempted to talk him into canceling.  Some might say TH is stubborn, I'd have to agree with them.

I flew down to Az on wednesday, and TH drove the car.  No he wouldnt let me ride/drive with him.  If you are wondering why re-read the sentence in blue.  He managed to get as far as Salt Lake and just couldnt drive any longer.  The pain was to intense and he couldnt sleep much at night to recoup.  Luckily his best friend since elementary school lives there.  And even more luckily his best friend's sister was up from Phoenix, and offered to drive George the rest of the way.  So best friend popped TH on a plane Saturday afternoon and George showed up on Monday night.  Being without George caused over a hundred dollars in taxi fees to the clinic and back!  But at least it saved TH from driving the rest of the way down.

After a flurry of tests Monday and Tuesday they had their game plan on what to do for TH.  A massive bone spur was pinching his spinal column and he had an over growth of one of his "windows" where the nerves branch out to the arms.  They fixed that up, but there is still a question of if he will need a second surgery, we find out on the 6th of November.  While the MRI says he has two other less troublesome spots, they dont want to operate without being able to physically pin point where the trouble is coming from.  Where the tingling, numbness or weakness is located tells the doctors where the malfunction is.

See on his MRI the really narrow bit?  Looks a bit like an hour glass, thats where they operated.  I took a picture of the monitor while awaiting for the doctor.

The insurance is being unhelpful, and he has lodged a complaint with the member service fella at the mine, he is supposed to call back Monday.  Every single credit card is maxed out, the surgery cost us $14,000!  When supposedly we are only ever supposed to pay $4,000 out of pocket.  So we shall see.

So, while he is healing and awaiting the verdict for possibly yet another surgery, at the same price point I might add, he is basically helpless.  He is not allowed to pick up anything over 5 lbs.  If the water pitcher is full he cant pick it up to pour out a glassful.  He isnt supposed to reach up or down to pick stuff up.  Added into this is he has a full raft of fairly heavy duty pain meds on board, so he's sleepy and rather queasy. 

Anything he needs, I have to fetch for him.  He can get dressed on his own, but needs to leave the door open when he takes a shower, as the heat of the water makes him dizzy, and I've had to steady him so he doesnt fall.  Getting a jar of pickles from the fridge is tough for him.  Until TH begins to feel better, I'll be MIA.

Oh and HAPPY BIRTHDAY JAY!!  sorry i missed your big day.   

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Mongolia Ho!

Saving as much money as possible as been theme for the Honko family for the last 3 years.  TH has wanted to hunt stone sheep in Canada ever since he was about 8.  And so a chunk of our money was sent to a guide in Canada, months went by without a contract, finally getting the guide on the phone, it took him awhile to remember someone that had sent him $10,000!  It's been quite a while since I've seen TH that furious.  After a shouting match he finally got his point across that he wanted his money returned to him ASAP!  Now to say TH was let down, would be putting it mildly, he was super depressed, he had already begun dreaming about scrambling over the mountains in British Columbia, tenting out and seeing stone sheep and if he shot one thats good, and if not, thats ok too.  Its the experience he loves not the killing per say.

After talking it over, I pushed him to call an outfitter and see what would be possible to hunt for the same-ish price.  That's how Mongolian ibex became a household word and main topic of conversation. 

The best part about this hunt was that it was nearly 1/3 the price!  Score!  Somewhere the decision was made to invite 3rd son to hunt and youngest to go along, but not to hunt. 

The airport at Ulan Bator

 Then a flight on a prop plane to Hovd

Where the outfitters did a quick run thru a store that TH said was like a Costco.
And then off in a Jeep for a 7 hour ride to get to the mountains and hunt.

Check out the sharp drop off from the newly paved portion and the "shoulder"!!  This is the interpreter out for a smoke break.   The Russians are building a road from Russia to China through Mongolia.  While the Mongolian's despise the Russians their hatred for the Chinese is all encompassing.  China was never EVER mentioned with the word fucking in front of it. 

The bactrian camel used to be fairly plentiful, but with the advent of cars and trucks they are no longer needed, and their numbers are dwindling. 

A lovely yet barren landscape.  The pile of rocks on the mountain is a dry stone coral for yaks and sheep where they spend the nights surrounded by dogs to keep the wolves at bay.

The ger is still a popular housing choice for nomads and can actually been seen in Ulan Bator sitting quietly next to an apartment building.  TH and the boys were asked if they know the reason for the doors of the ger to face south, they guessed as something to do with weather.  No, that's where our enemies come from, fucking Chinese!  

As you can see, wood is in short supply, so the bits of wood are just to get the fire started, but its fueled primarily with yak dung and coal.
A yak getting milked by one of the ladies who live in the area.

Back to Ulan Bator.  If you look close, next to the concrete ger is an actual ger, complete with fence and outhouse.  Tis off to the right, just on the edge of the photo.
The buildings look rather ramshackle to our western eyes, but with limited equipment and a population wanting to leave the small towns and far flung nomad areas, buildings are being tossed up higgledy piggledy.   And after posing for a photo, the fellow with his arms crossed demanded money..
The traffic is completely out of control, often gridlocked for hours.  Capturing the police and ambulances, the interpreter told Th that quite often people die in ambulances stuck in traffic.  Ulan Bator is growing quickly but doesn't yet have the infrastructure to handle the current population.
The Mongolian Parliament building.  That's Genghis Khan sitting, and his two guards on horse.

Not sure of this fellow's name, but he freed the Mongols from the oppression of Chinese rule in 1912.
Gives a whole new outlook to the Disney film Mulan, yeah?
The piece of the wall is whats left of the summer palace.  The colorful buildings are the museum, where no photos are allowed to be taken, nor do they sell postcards, a photo book, etc. 

   The Blue Sky Hotel.  Lovely isn't it?  They are trying to attract tourism by offering luxury accommodations.  Mongolia is trying ever so hard to wrench themselves out of 3rd world status, but it is an uneven effort.  When TH and the boys would order something from the menu what they heard mostly was, "No!" with a sharp finger wag, that meant they were out of that.  Most of the items from many of the menus around Ulan Bator seemed to be out of many menu items.
Funnily enough, the most popular chain restaurant in Mongolia, is an American company!  Wild yeah?
Mongolian .money.  The fella in the odd hat is the guy who freed them from the Chinese.  Tis Genghis on the bottom bill, and that hole isnt a hole but has some sort of plastic imbedded with a faint printing.  The 20,000 Togrog is worth $11.78 USD.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Sock Post

I didn't realize that knitting socks was such an curious thing to do, until I went out in public (gasp!) with my knitting recently.  So, I thought I'd document the building of a pair of socks, the way I do it.  Not the way most, or some do it, but me.  I tend to do things a bit different, which I'll cover when I get to that point. 

Items for sock building:
 Circular and double pointed knitting needles
 a stitch marker
 measure tape
my trusty pattern
and yeah yarn

After snapping a few photos of the knitting in progress, I realized that scale is nearly impossible to decipher from a photo.  I tried taking several photos to get a good scale, but in the end, tis the same thickness of a piece of spaghetti.

I knit my socks toe up for several reasons, all of them being its easier.  Yeah, I trend towards easy peasy rather than tricky and involved at least in sock world.  Cause really, they are SOCKS!  I stuff em in my shoes, I could care less what people think of my socks!  So, the cast on is super cool, and EP (easy peasy) however, it really doesnt do well on DPN (double pointed needles) as their isnt any give to DPN'S made of wood or aluminum and its quite tricky getting another needle in that wee space. 

And as you can see from this next photo, the cable connecting the two points on a circular needle is quite flexible.

I continue on this way with the circulars due to having to increase one stitch at the beginning and end of both needles every other row, and on DPN's I kept getting lost.... where the fuck am I?  shit......rip rip rip, begin again.  The wee jewel thingy is a stitch marker showing me where the beginning is so I know when I've made a round.  The sock is a circle, more or less, and smarter knitters I'm sure could just look and keep track.  Thats way to much work for this lazy knitter, no guessing or close looking for me!

Whew!  Finally done with the increasing portion of the sock and can use DPN's just one circular needle left!  I dont enjoy knitting with the circulars due to the amount of pulling that cable thru to get the point where you want it!  GRRR......

So, I'm all happy knitting along to my latest Korean TV show, yeah I've learned to knit to foreign movies/tv!  Anyway, some stitches kept getting stuck on one of the needles, and as there are 4 in permanent play with one doing the escorting of old stitches into new ones, I never knew which one it was.  Then I heard a fatal sound, crack and the needle broke!  Weep!  Wail!  I LOVED this set of needles! 

I caught the stitches on one of the circulars and knitting had to wait until the next day when new needles could be bought.  Well.  I thought I'd caught all the stitches, turns out nope I didn't.  To make matters worse, I didnt notice it for several rows, and by that time the stitches had been quite happily unraveling.  The two markers are holding the stitches from unraveling any further until I could knit around to that section of the sock for a fix.  A quick repair and I continued on.

All done with the foot, it measures 6 inches, so ready for the gusset and the heel turn.  Which is a bit of knitting magic and makes a cool cup thingy!  Now, this is one area where I'm really a weird sock knitter.  The front of the sock isnt knitted during the entire heel turn and heel, the stitches just hang out and wait until the heel is finished, beginning the gusset I move to the circulars for the same reason I do on the toe, its easier to keep track of where I'm at.  I knit the first pass of the heel turn onto a DPN leaving the edge stitches on their circular.  Why?  That way when I do all my decreases I dont have to keep count, I just knit until there is one stitch on the needle and turn, and repeat.  I have two circular needles and 2 DPN's.  It's sorta kinda crowded, but it works for me, the anti-counter!

This is the heel all finished.  The row of stitches running away from the heel is the gusset, this is where extra stitches are added to make room for your heel.  The heel is double layer to keep from wearing out so quickly on the back of ones shoes, and is a decrease area to bring the stitch count back to the same as the foot.  Now, there are complicated maths to build socks for any foot or ankle issue.  Luckily for math lacking me, I have normal feet/ankles.

I use a ribbing that unstretched looks not like ribbing.  Knit 2, Purl has I think superior stretch and rebound ability over many other combos.  Unstretched